Montreal new Public transit projects – The Quebec Transport Minister announced last week that his department will spend 14.75 million to study public transit projects for the Montreal region. Although some people wondered why such studies would cost that much, on the other hand, it is the only way for proposals that have been around for some time, to get closer to materialization. The studies should be ready within 12 to 18 months, and Minister André Fortin promised that his department would work in close cooperation and consultation with all municipalities in the region. Factors to be considered for the final approval of each project will be their potential ridership, impact on the environment and on the population, and how they would be integrated into the regional transit systems.
Some of the projects have long been on the table, for instance, extending the western section of the Orange metro line into the northern part of Ville Saint-Laurent and eventually crossing into Laval. Since the previous extension into that neighbouring city has been a remarkable success in terms of ridership, people in Laval expect that the expansion into the western part of their town would also prove popular. Extending the Yellow metro line deeper into Longueuil territory is another idea that has been floating for a while. The South Shore could also benefit from another long-standing notion: a rapid transit link running along the Taschereau Boulevard. And then on the island of Montreal, there is the projected express-bus lane on Pie-IX Avenue, which could be extended to connect with Notre Dame Boulevard, right at the main entrance to the Port of Montreal.
Regarding the new ideas to improve public transit, the metro line proposed by Mayor Valerie Plante when she was a candidate, will likely be studied with particular attention: it would be the first new metro line since the Blue Line. Named as the Pink Line, it would follow a diagonal design connecting Montreal North with downtown, with a possible extension to connect with the Peel Basin REM station and even up west to LaSalle and Lachine.
Another new project would be rapid transit (i.e. a tramway) running through Notre Dame Boulevard which would connect the eastern part of the island to downtown. Also included in this new category the Transport Department will be the conversion of the suburban train to Mascouche, inaugurated just 3 years and a half ago, into a fully electric line compatible with the new REM system.
An essential role in this process will be played by the new agency created by the province 13 months ago, the Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain (ARTM) which should be supervising all public transit planning and developing in the Montreal area. The ARTM however, was not received with much enthusiasm by mayors and citizens, which at the time regarded it as a bureaucratic structure which would make things more complicated for the current transit corporations in the area. Pierre Shedleur, Chair of the Board of Directors of the ARTM tried to dissipate these doubts by reiterating that the ARTM will remain “proactive and listen to all players involved in the process […] with the purpose of developing a common vision for public transit for the decades to come.” The studies announced by the Minister, and the action that should follow them would be the first test for this new entity: will it be a facilitator for the demands for better public transit in the whole area, or would it be a new bureaucratic layer delaying solutions? We will have to wait a few months and then ask for the results of the studies.